An unofficial blog that watches Google's attempts to move your operating system online since 2005. Not affiliated with Google.

Send your tips to gostips@gmail.com.

September 29, 2014

Google Tests Icon for Smartphone-Optimized Results

A Google experiment shows a special icon next to smartphone-optimized search results. Obviously, the icon is only displayed when searching from smartphones.


Back in 2012, Google ran a similar experiment, but it never became a regular feature.

Google has a few articles about building smartphone-optimized sites. Google supports three different configurations: responsive design (same code, same URL - Google's recommended configuration), dynamic serving (different code, same URL) and separate mobile sites (different code, different URL).

{ Thanks, Herin Maru. }

Bonus Storage for Google Maps Views

Sushubh Mittal noticed 8GB of bonus storage in his Google account. The bonus storage is for Google Maps Views and doesn't expire.


Other users got 15GB, 67GB, 72GB of free storage, so it looks like Google's bonus is not the same for everyone. It's not clear how you can obtain the Google Maps Views bonus, but I assume it could be influenced by the number of photos and panoramic images you add to Google Maps Views, the number of photos approved to be displayed in Google Maps and their popularity.

All the photos you've publicly shared in Google+ and they're also tagged with a location and have the "Show location" setting checked are automatically added to Google Maps Views and some of them are added to Google Maps. "Google Maps tries to algorithmically choose a variety of interesting, high-quality photos that give you a sense of place. To keep the focus on the location, photos that have people in them are typically not chosen," explains Google.

You can check your storage here: mouse over the chart to see the breakdown.

Update: Stephen Shankland from CNet found a post from the Panoramio group which says that Panoramio users will receive bonus Google Drive storage: "We will provide an easy way for you to migrate all your Panoramio photos, their metadata, and their viewcounts to Views. Your photos will be saved into public albums in Google+ and we will provide you a Google Drive storage bonus to cover the additional data usage."

September 27, 2014

Android Verification Code for Google Accounts

When you're signing in to a Google account from a different country, Google asks you to confirm your identity. You can enter your recovery email address or phone number, enter a verification code received in an SMS messages or voice call and now you can enter a code generated by your Android device.


"If you're signing in from a different location than you usually do, we may ask you to enter a code from the Google Settings app on your Android phone or tablet to make sure you own the account. You don't need an internet connection or phone/SMS connectivity to get codes using this app."


The Google Settings app is the UI for Google Play Services, Google's framework that delivers new features and APIs without installing a new Android version. It has nothing to do with the built-in Settings app, which is part of the operating system and can't be updated by Google.

The verification code has 8 digits and it can be obtained by opening the Google Settings app, tapping the menu button and selecting "Get verification code".

{ Thanks, Herin Maru. }

Chrome's Offline Easter Egg

Chrome's latest Canary release has an updated offline error page. It still includes a small dinosaur image, a funny way to show how quickly your computer can become a relic from the past without an Internet connection.


The error page has an Easter Egg: if you press space, it lets you play a game. "Your only goal is to avoid hitting cacti. The T. Rex jumps by hitting the space bar. Fret not if you do hit an obstacle, because Chrome T. Rex doesn't stay down for long. (Hit the game-over refresh icon, and you're back at it.) The game tracks your progress and high score, but stats are lost if the window closes or is refreshed," reports Mashable.


Google's 16th Birthday Doodle

Google has an animated doodle for its 16th birthday. It's not a game like last year's doodle, but it's still funny. This time, Google shows the world how much it has grown.


"When's Google’s birthday? I'm not sure even we know – we've celebrated on September 7th, 8th, 26th, and, most recently the 27th. Still, while there’re some differing opinions about when to bust out the candles and cake, one fun fact is that our first doodle was posted even before Google was officially incorporated," says Google.

You can find Google's previous birthday doodles on this page.

Happy Birthday, Google!

September 25, 2014

New Interface for Google Takeout

Google Takeout has a new interface. It's easier to pick the services you want to include in an archive and you can now store archives in Google Drive.

"After we finish creating your archive, we will add your archive to Drive and email you a link to its location. These archives will count against your storage quota," informs Google.


Some services let you select the data you want to export: Gmail labels, calendars, Google Drive folders, Blogger blogs, Google+ photo albums, books.



Google can create a download link that expires after a month or save the archive in Google Drive.





Imagine exporting your data, saving the archive to Google Drive and then exporting your data again. This time, you'll also export the archive you've previously created. It's a good idea to exclude the Takeout folder from Drive, which stores your Takeout archives.

{ Thanks, Florian Kiersch. }

Mobile IE Doesn't Show Google Suggestions

If you've changed the search provider to Google in Internet Explorer for Windows Phone and you're wondering why search suggestions aren't that great, there's an explanation: Internet Explorer shows suggestions from Bing even if you're using Google.

Let's say I type in the address bar: "the best way to". Here are the suggestions:


And here are Google's suggestions:


If you go to IE's advanced settings, you'll notice that you can enable or disable "get suggestions from Bing as I type". To get Google's suggestions, you can go to google.com, install Google's app for Windows Phone or install a different browser.



So why would Microsoft show Bing suggestions if you've changed your search provider to Google? Maybe it's an excuse for Microsoft to send all your queries and partial queries to Bing, so that it can improve its search engine.

Update. Hadrien Zero-Un has an explanation in the comments: "Internet Explorer for Windows Phone can't have Google as a search engine. BUT Nokia modified the browser to allow the change of the search [engine]."

Google Structured Snippets

A few weeks ago, I noticed that Google shows facts next to some Wikipedia results. This feature is called Structured Snippets and it's not limited to Wikipedia results.

"Structured Snippets is a new feature that incorporates facts into individual result snippets in Web Search. As seen in the example below, interesting and relevant information is extracted from a page and displayed as part of the snippet for the query [nikon d7100]," informs Google.


"Structured Snippets is the latest collaboration between Google Research and the Web Search team employing that data to seamlessly provide the most relevant information to the user. We use machine learning techniques to distinguish data tables on the Web from uninteresting tables, e.g., tables used for formatting web pages. We also have additional algorithms to determine quality and relevance that we use to display up to four highly ranked facts from those data tables," mentions the Google Research blog.


You don't need special formatting: Google extracts information from existing tables. It's interesting to notice that Google has always used tables from web pages to extract useful data. Google Sets, one of the earliest Google Labs services, used lists and tables from web pages to generate lists of related terms. Google also built a search engine for tables and shows data from tables in cards and snippets.

Obscure Google Maps Results

When you add "google maps" or "map" to a Google query related to a location, it's likely that you'll see a Google Maps card. For example, searching for [google maps bop], [map bop] or [bop map] returns a map for the Bouar Airport (BOP) from the Central African Republic.


Sometimes this feature doesn't work very well. I searched for [google maps location history] and Google returned this map for Location History Collection, a museum from Hungary that appears to be permanently closed. It's obvious that the Google Maps Location History page is more important and should be displayed first.


What about [google maps 2014]?


And it's not just about Hungary.


There's even a map for Street View:


And maps for "distance" and "navigation":



Even Larry Page has a Google Maps card.


Android too.

Updated Dictionary Card in Google Search

Google updated the dictionary card and it now includes a message next to the big arrow at the bottom: "Translations, word origin, and more definitions". Probably many users didn't realize that the card can be expanded to show even more definitions and some additional information.